Evel Knievel’s son sues Disney over Toy Story 4 character

Evel Knievel’s son is suing Disney over a daredevil character in the animated film Toy Story 4.

Kelly Knievel has held the publicity rights to his father’s name since 1998, according to his US District Court filing in Las Vegas.

The federal trademark infringement lawsuit claims that Disney-owned Pixar did not ask permission to use his father’s likeness when creating the character Duke Caboom.

American daredevil Evel Knievel (1938 - 2007) makes a motorcycle jump over thirteen AEC Merlin buses at Wembley Stadium in London, 26th May 1975. The stunt ended in a crash in which Knievel broke his pelvis. (Photo by Kypros/Getty Images)
Image:One of Evel Knievel’s most famous stunts was at Wembley Stadium in London in 1975

Knievel is seeking damages of more than $300,000 (£235,000) over allegations including false endorsement and unjust enrichment.

The 60-year-old said: “Evel Knievel did not thrill millions around the world, break his bones and spill his blood just so Disney could make a bunch of money.”

Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves in last year’s film, was a 1970s toy who rides a motorbike and is “Canada’s greatest stuntman”, the lawsuit said.

Knievel was famous for stunts such as a motorbike jump over a row of buses at Wembley Stadium.

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He was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps, but died from lung disease in 2007.

An Evel Knievel toy was released in 1973 with a white helmet and jumpsuit, with a motorbike that could be propelled with a wind-up device.

Disney and Pixar released a similar Duke Caboom toy along with Toy Story 4.

The toy also featured in McDonald’s Happy Meals.

Evel Knievel was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps
Image:Evel Knievel was seriously injured many times during 75 motorbike jumps

The lawsuit claims consumers and film reviewers “universally caught on to the connection”, despite the film company and Reeves avoiding any comparison.

Jeffrey R Epstein, corporate spokesman for The Walt Disney Co, described Knievel’s claims as meritless, saying the film company will defend itself vigorously.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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